How often should I walk my dog?
The amount of activity your dog needs, depends on their age, breed, activity level and whether they have any other health problems.
Most dogs would benefit from daily exercise, however with many of us having busy lifestyles this is not always possible. Try to walk your dog at least three to four times a week. For fit, active breeds such as border collies, cattle dogs and kelpies daily walking is a must if they don’t have a large yard to run around in.
The intensity and duration of exercise will also vary. Exercise limitations may apply for dogs in the following categories:
- Smaller dogs – These breeds may be fit but their comparative size means that they may be pushing the boundaries if you are taking them for a walk or a run over several kilometers;
- Brachycephalic breeds – These are short nosed breeds like boxers, staffies and many terrier breeds. Dogs cool themselves down mainly through panting, using the large, vascular surface area in their nose like a radiator to cool their blood. Short nosed breeds can’t cool themselves down as well as other breeds. Be careful not to overexert these dogs particularly in warmer weather.
- Orthopaedic disease – This includes dogs with hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cruciate ligament disease or any form of arthritis or spinal disease. These dogs have variable degrees of mobility problems. Be careful if you are planning on taking a long walk, they will overdo it if given the opportunity and they may either become very sore after they get home and cool down or they may actually collapse during the walk from pain or exhaustion. These dogs need exercise to maintain healthy joint function, but this has to be altered to suit their limitations. Keep it short and regular and make sure you aren’t to far from help if you need a lift.
- Other health problems including heart or respiratory disease and obesity will also necessitate and less intense exercise program.
If on the other hand you can’t keep up with your dog, fetching games can help them burn off excess energy with little expenditure on your part. Frisbees and balls are popular for this. If you don’t have a great throwing arm, grab the tennis racquet or purchase a ball throwing aid like a Chuckit® ball launcher.
Choose a large area with level surface, free of obstacles. Avoid situations where your dog has to change directions suddenly while chasing the ball as this predisposes to ligament injury. Sticks are not a safe throwing toy! These can become impaled in the back of their throat when they try to retrieve it while it is still moving.